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  1. #1
    Me. mrchristian's Avatar
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    The Beginner's Guide to Buying a Motobecane/Dawes/Mercier

    The boring story:

    Ah Motobecane, the somewhat infamous mail-order bikes that promise good component groups, a lifetime warranty, and the heritage of a classic road bike brand of the 80's- all for a very, very cheap price. Just about every cash-conscious newbie looking for a new bike brings it up. Among the biking community, there has been mixed feelings about the quality of these bikes, and how they stack up to a reasonably equivalent bike from a local bike store. Plus, you don't get sizing and repair help from the local store. I however, have tried a ton of my friend's bikes. 58cm is my size. I feel really uncomfortable on a 60cm, and a 56 is far too small.

    Like most, beginning roadies, I began my search for a new bike at the most entry-level price I could get it. After crashing my first bike- an outdated Schwinn Traveler from my neighbor, I started looking at the typical choices: The omnipresent Trek 1000, Raleigh Grandsport, Specialized Allez Sport, Jamis Satellite, Giant OCR3, Fuji Finest and other bikes like these. Most of them are in the $700 range, with aluminum frames, and made in Taiwan. Unfortunately, I had roughly $200, plus whatever I could get my dad to help me with. He said he would pay about $75, so I first began looking used since there was no way I would be able to shell out $700. I had just destroyed my Traveler, so my parents weren't exactly biting at the teeth to buy me a new bike. Heck, neither was I. While I was cruising around the bikes stores, I inquired about used bikes, but neither of them carried anything.

    The used bike market is horrible in my area. Just take a look at the classified section in the paper. After weeding out about 20 or 30 WalMart bikes, I found only two potential bikes: A Nishiki and a Raleigh, both going for about $200, and hey, the seller claimed "Like new!" I called him and got some REAL information. Seriously, these things were not new or even remotely close to being new. Both had Hi-10 steel (REALLY heavy), bottom of the barrel components (even in the late 70's), friction shifting and 10 speeds of raw fury. $200?! 200!? More like $20. MAX. I sometimes wonder what people think when they find grandpa's old bike rotting in the garage. "GEE! This must be worth at least $200! Heck, aside from the flat tires, dirt, grime, rust and water damage, this thing is practically new!"

    Craigslist... the first thing I found was a beautiful red Trek going for $80! If only I was about a foot shorter... There was nothing in my size, or even remotely in my area on the Los Angeles site. It seemed that (besides the Trek) everybody thinks their ďbarely used!Ē K-Mart special is worth more than they paid for it.

    I really don't like eBay, and I have never used it. I guess its because I figured that i'd always get ripped off or something. I'd looked at bikes before, but never looked into it, you know. I finally found something that caught my eye. A Motobecane Mirage. I had seen it before, but never really gave it a thought. At $245 + $35, it looked like a great deal. They had tons of options and colors available in my size, but it had downtube shifters, steel frame, and generic brakes. Do they even make these things anymore?? This wasn't really a big improvement on what I had before, but it was the best thing I could find. Still, I decided to keep looking. Everything else was too expensive, or too old.

    By the way, I think that Motobecane, Dawes, and Mercier are all owned by the same company (Fuji possibly?). The bikes are listed by various eBay sellers for the same price, with the EXACT same options. It got even more hazy when I found out that some Fuji high-end bikes and fixed gear bikes are sold under the Motobecane name and share platforms. I checked out some threads on the bikes and found out a bunch from this website. I'm assuming that they bought the names so they could sell last-years-model bikes under them. As you expect, they are all built in Taiwan.

    So I looked at the next level up. I found a Dawes lightning Sport (also known as the Motobecane Mirage Sport) from the same seller for exactly $300 + $35 shipping. This was a tad out of my range, but I figured I could nudge my dad a little past the limit line. It was exactly what I was looking for. STI shifters and Shimano Sora brakes this time, all on a steel frame. I didn't really care about the frame, since I rode a steel bike before and I liked the feel a lot. This seemed like the perfect bike. Just one catch: They were out of my size! I emailed the seller and found out that she wouldn't have any in stock for 3 months!! Forget that...I for sure was not going to wait 3 months.

    I kept searching. The last bike I found was a Motobecane Mirage Pro on accident from a different seller. It cost $330 + $40 shipping this time around and they luckily had one 58cm size left. (Its also weird to know that they have more sizes than Giant) Its identical to the Mirage Sport, but had an aluminum frame. $370 was a lot of money though, and I was slowly creeping up to the price of a Trek 1000 from a bike store. Even on closeouts, they still cost around $540-$600 however, so I closed my eyes and ordered it after asking the seller a ton of questions. She was surprisingly helpful and answered all of my emails very quickly. Some of her answers were a little vague though. Eg. Q: How much does the bike weigh? A: Sora equipped bikes all weigh around 23 lbs. The other thing I didnít really want was a triple (for silly vanity reasons), but I rethought this since my usual route takes me over an insane climb on Santa Susanna road, so it probably would be nice to have one.

    NOTE: Bikesdirect.com and their store Cycle Spectrum sells the same bike on their website and on eBay, but the sellers have them priced significantly lower, but with limited sizes, so you get what you find. Supposedly, the brand offers a ďLifetime WarrentyĒ but since I donít have any experience and havenít heard anyone else dealing with the company, this remains up in the air. My guess is that your better off fixing it yourself since you wonít get the service of the more mainstream companies like Trek and Cannondale for obvious reasons.

    I ordered the bike really late in the night on July 12, and it came in 6 days on July 19 by UPS. The whole time I was biting at the teeth for it to come in and panicking whether it would be good or not.

    The bike:

    So what does $375 get you? For this price you could buy 1 American Classic Wheel that you can use like a unicycle by standing on the axle! Obviously, not a lot of performance, but you do get some quality. After being classically trained on downtube shifters, the STI functions like a dream, but only if you tune it right.

    Packaging: It all comes in one big box completely set up except for the front wheel, front brake, handlebars/stem, and seat tube. It does take a while to set up, and you will need to adjust and setup the front brakes yourself. My rear brake also needed to be tuned. If youíve never worked on bikes before, I do not recommend this product, unless you plan to pay someone else to assemble it for you. If you do have a basic knowledge of mechanics, its smooth sailing. Itís definitely not rocket science, but you do get some pretty worthless instructions, which donít remotely have anything to do with the bike.

    Drivetrain: First off, as advertised, you get Shimano Sora components: Sora Flightdeck front and rear deraillers. Pretty basic stuff of course, but defiantly good. I canít tell what kind of cassette you get, but its probably SRAM or generic. You get a nice FSA triple crankset as well. They included some cheap pedals and straps, which Iím chucking anyway in favor of my clipless. An extra derallier hanger is included.

    Brakes: Sora brakes with Sora brake pads. Youíll have to install the front one yourself, but they already have the cable ready.

    Handlebars and Headset: AHEADSET headset, generic handlebars with Motobecane stamped in them, 2 sets of handlebar tape, Wings stem.

    Frame: Good frame made by Kinesis with standard 7005 aluminum tubing. Itís got some weird way to arrange the cables by using a fixture where a downtube shifter is installed. (Check out the Fuji Ace) It works well though. The paint is actually very beautiful but is not a real blue. Itís more of a bluish purple, but is very nice looking. 2 water bottle braze-ons. Generic ďDuraforteĒ Chro-moly front fork. No carbon of course. The geometry feels very sporty and quick. The ride is a lot less uncomfortable than my steel road bike was due to the aluminum build, and it also feels less refined, but i'm definately not complaining because it's so much lighter! Plus, if you don't like the Motobecane name, the stickers peel right off!

    Wheels: Hereís where you saved money. Alex RPD15F presta rims laced to a generic hub with a Motobecane logo on it. You also get some cheap unsealed quick release skewers. 36 spokes. The tires included are 700c x 23c Kenda Competition Kontenders rated for 125 PSI which cost about $20 each surprisingly.

    Seat: Velo seat is very comfortable, even though I figured I would throw it away. Seat tube is not greased, and it can be dangerous for a total beginner to assemble.

    Summary:
    PROS: Insanely low cost, very good specs for the money, surprisingly light, very comfortable. 8 sizes available helps fit. Shimano components.

    CONS: First off, you have to assemble the thing yourself so you might not know to grease the seatpost or correctly set up the brakes. No instructions. Cheap wheelset. Correct sizing a total guess. Motobecane name.

    Pictures coming soon...
    Last edited by mrchristian; 07-19-05 at 03:09 PM.
    I just say something about fixies being sooo trendy right now. That is hipster kryptonite. -Anon

  2. #2
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    Enjoy

  3. #3
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    That was certainly the most detailed bike review posted in a long time. I hope you post again after you've had a few weeks on the road breaking the bike in.

    This huge "discount bike" family seems to be controlled by the owners of the Cycle Spectrum chain, and their mail order division, BikesDirect.com. They sell their bikes under five or six brand names...names owned by BD and BD sells under a bunch of different names on E-Bay. So, you may think there are ten "Windsor" dealers in the USA, but there is just one, using about ten identities. And, there is only one dealer that carries Motobecane, Mercier, etc.

    And, just as their real identity is kept a mystery, the "list" prices in their ads are always imaginary. The $400 bike that they claim lists for "$900 is just a $400 bike.

    But, they ARE the only folks in the USA with much interest in selling road bikes in the $300 to $500 price range. The cheapest Trek or Giant road bikes at my neighborhood LBS's are currently "on sale" for $599.99 and up (and up, and up). Without these guys, new road bikes would be unaffordable for many folks.
    Last edited by alanbikehouston; 07-28-07 at 04:48 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member sydney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston

    But, they ARE the only folks in the USA with much interest in selling road bikes in the $300 to $500 price range. Without these guys, road bikes would be unaffordable for many people.
    $500 or a bit less will get you a Trek, Giant, Fuji among others on sale or clearance and you don't even have to put it together yourself.

  5. #5
    Me. mrchristian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sydney
    $500 or a bit less will get you a Trek, Giant, Fuji among others on sale or clearance and you don't even have to put it together yourself.
    Yeah...I know. Its not just the bike I have to buy though. I need a new pump, some shoes, plus a bunch of little odds and ends.

    To be honest, putting together the bike was a lot of fun, especially since I wouldn't be doing anything else right now.

    I'll give you some updates in a couple of weeks.
    I just say something about fixies being sooo trendy right now. That is hipster kryptonite. -Anon

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    HEEEEEELP!

    Saw this post from '05 about the Motobeacane...or dawes...or XXXX name cheapo bike. I'm thinking of buying one in a few months - any reccomendations or ideas? BikesDirect.com looks like the best place around - any other new ones now?
    I'm no bike expert so asselblage may take a while but I'm not stupid - any advice on this? I can follow instructions so if thye're adequate then no prob!
    Any chance ANY of you would take a look at the BikesDirect.com webiste for 3 mins for me and pick the best value general use road bike under $800 you would go with? This one looks pretty good and hella cheap: http://www.bikesdirect.com/products/dawes/lt1000.htm
    ANY help would be GREAT,
    Shawn
    smckirg@pacbell.net

  7. #7
    . bbattle's Avatar
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    Underneath the Bike Forums banner at the top of the page is a "Search the Forums" button. I suggest you use that to find the information you seek.

    Asking people to check out a website for you is not polite.

  8. #8
    Should be riding Bike Lover's Avatar
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    What amazes me about this thread is that ABH isn't spewing hatred towards BD! So, the question remains what happened between 7-19-05 and now that changed him to the good ol' hater that we know today?!?!?!

    Perhaps he was just being polite in this instance since mrchristian obviously took alot of time and effort to write this?

    To shootist: I don't think the instructions have gotten any better. But now there are web sites, such as park tool, that will help you through any assembly or maintenance issue. And remember: it's only a good deal if you already know your size. That's a very important factor in a bike purchase.
    Regret lasts longer than pain
    My LBS:
    http://i103.photobucket.com/albums/m...wneonsmall.jpg

  9. #9
    Senior Member GaryA's Avatar
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    Interesting review. Im not sure what kind of wheelset you would get a $375 bike but I always go with the "you get what you pay for."

    Putting the bike together yourself is a con? I just bought a bike from them I had to put on the pedals, put the bars on the stem, and put the front tire on. I don't see any of these as being very difficult, they are things that could be done to any bike for various reasons. I called a local bike shop they will do all adjustments for me for $50 money well spent.

    I also was not aware that the name Motobecane was a bad thing when I bought one. What is the reason for this? Is it because I got a good deal on a bike?
    2007 Motobecane Sprint
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  10. #10
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    All I know about Bikesdirect and Motobecane is what I read here and that was AFTER I bought my Mirage Pro on E-bay 2 years ago. I just wanted to try riding instead of running. I put mine together just as discribed above. No real problem being a tech in the Navy. It has been going great ever since, with the exception of flat tires. I would love to upgrade to a better NAME BRAND bike but the cost does not justify it, YET!

    My .02 cents

  11. #11
    100% USDA certified the beef's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alanbikehouston
    But, they ARE the only folks in the USA with much interest in selling road bikes in the $300 to $500 price range. The cheapest Trek or Giant road bikes at my neighborhood LBS's are currently "on sale" for $599.99 and up (and up, and up). Without these guys, new road bikes would be unaffordable for many folks.
    +1! Yes.

  12. #12
    Senior Member littlewaywelt's Avatar
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    anyone ever ride the carbon motobecane?
    these bikes seem like a great deal. I have a custom steel & campy bike from 89 but I'd like to upgrade to carbon and lever shifters. to upgrade my bike would be several hundred at least. I'm a runner now, so I put very few miles on the bike and thus don't want to spend a lot.
    One Less Car
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  13. #13
    ride on !!!! shawnj73's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by littlewaywelt View Post
    anyone ever ride the carbon motobecane?
    these bikes seem like a great deal. I have a custom steel & campy bike from 89 but I'd like to upgrade to carbon and lever shifters. to upgrade my bike would be several hundred at least. I'm a runner now, so I put very few miles on the bike and thus don't want to spend a lot.
    I have an Immortal Force from last year. I like it; seems to be a solid frame no problems and no regrets. I have over 2000 miles on the bike, and it is fine. I have not been disapointed with my purchase.
    LATER!!!!!!!!!

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    i have 2600 miles on my immortal force. it's been flawless. only issue is frame sizing. look at the bd geometry charts for motobecane before you buy and try and find a similar bike in a store to check out before you leap

  15. #15
    Michigan Rider lesdunham's Avatar
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    I have almost 3000 miles on my Moto IF bought last year. It is fantastic, solid, and a sweet ride. Lots of people have overt distaste for BD but my deal was as advertised. Everyone who asks the price paid is almost shocked. I got what I paid for and then some.

  16. #16
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    i probaly wouldnt have baught a motobecane if it werent for the fact that i have a cycle spectrum an hour from my house....the free service for life is a deal i couldnt pass up...plus i have family over there so i can just make a day trip drop of bike go out to lunch with family and pick it up.........i wanna check out the IF there if he has some in stock......
    '02 Trek Fuel MTB
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  17. #17
    Member Denny Crane's Avatar
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    Thanks for the objective review.

    I realize your review was written some time ago, but I found a link to it from some angry guy ranting about shill reviews. I just wanted to say that your review seemed objective and well-reasoned. I doubt that somebody who rides over the Santa Susana Pass could be a shill for a Dallas, Texas company. I resumed riding in February, and bought a Motobecane Century Pro. Riding the Pasadena foothill circuit, and being a little older, I swapped the rear cassette for an IRD 11/32 and the Ultegra for a Shimano M770 derailleur. I also changed to carbon fiber handlebars and Ultegra pedals. My bike handles very well, is forgiving of minor mistakes, and absorbs much of the road vibration. It climbs the hills, and handles fast turns, and I am comfortable zipping down in to the Rose Bowl at 35 MPH. When I ride with my friends, or a group (Stan's Monrovia, Team Ventura) it's like being 13 years old and riding with my friends again. I think the level of enjoyment is inate to the rider, not the bike. Some bike riding guy once said, "It's not about the bike."

    I hope that you are enjoying your bike as much as I am mine.

    Incidentally, I am looking for a route from La Crescenta to Thousand Oaks. Any suggestions?

    Regards,
    Denny Crane

  18. #18
    Member jasyn's Avatar
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    I just picked up a Motobecane Mirage Pro on craigslist for $160. It feels pretty heavy to me (I'm 6'2" so I ride around 60cm frames). Does anybody know what this thing weighs?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasyn View Post
    I just picked up a Motobecane Mirage Pro on craigslist for $160. It feels pretty heavy to me (I'm 6'2" so I ride around 60cm frames). Does anybody know what this thing weighs?
    The only way to know what your bike weighs is to weigh it! You have it, why don't you weigh it?

  20. #20
    Member jasyn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Camilo View Post
    The only way to know what your bike weighs is to weigh it! You have it, why don't you weigh it?
    Well . . . I don't have a scale, that is why I'm asking in this thread to see if any current owners can give me an idea. I can't find an answer on the motobecaneusa website and I don't have access to a scale.

  21. #21
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bike Lover View Post
    What amazes me about this thread is that ABH isn't spewing hatred towards BD! So, the question remains what happened between 7-19-05 and now that changed him to the good ol' hater that we know today?!?!?!

    .
    What I think is funny is how this review is written almost exactly like a bunch of others posted under different names that I have seen since then.
    Not too much to say here

  22. #22
    Senior Member MONGO!'s Avatar
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    And that's what happened

  23. #23
    ah.... sure. kayakdiver's Avatar
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    Save 15% on your first order at Hammer Nutrition!!

    2010 Giant TCR SL 3
    2010 Novara Randonee

  24. #24
    Senior Member Nachoman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jasyn View Post
    Well . . . I don't have a scale, that is why I'm asking in this thread to see if any current owners can give me an idea. I can't find an answer on the motobecaneusa website and I don't have access to a scale.
    Way too many unknown factors for us to determine the weight of your bicycle. As stated previously, easiest way is to weigh it yourself. If you don't have a scale, you should just borrow one.
    .
    .

    Two wheels good. Four wheels bad.

  25. #25
    Sua Ku rollin's Avatar
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    Take it to any half decent bike shop, they ill weigh it for you. Bait shops also have good hanging scales!

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